ROBOTICS IN LANGUAGE LEARNING: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY USING THE BEE-BOT
Cyprus University of Technology (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Using technologies in the language teaching has been a major part of education for years. Teachers have been using technology since the 20th century when the use of the radio emerged. Later on, the TV came along, and much later the computer and eventually mobile phones. As the years went by, more and more technologies emerged such as social media, smartphones and mobile applications. While there has been a lot of research regarding technologies in the language classroom, not much has been conducted regarding robotics in language teaching. Most of the studies are concerned with the use of robotics in Mathematics, Scientific Principles, Design and Technology, ICT (Computer Programming) and Engineering. Limited studies explore the use of robotics in the language classroom which demonstrated the advantageous outcomes of the use of robotics in a classroom setting. For example, Alix Mammina (2017) noted that the use of classroom robotics can enhance students’ 21st-century skills, thus educators should prepare their students for a future filled with automation and artificial intelligence (Alix Mammina, 2017). With this in mind, this project presents a computer-mediated activity facilitated by a specific robot, the Bee-bot, and explore its potential in the second language classroom under a pedagogically and theoretically driven task.
From a methodological perspective a Communicative approach was adopted aiming at communicative competence through language teaching. Students tried to communicate in the target language within a social context. Students worked in small groups using authentic language and materials in a game-like activity. The teacher acted as a facilitator setting up the communicative task and advising whenever needed. From a theoretical perspective, the theory that grounded the study was Constructivism. The learners actively constructed meaning through critical thinking where experience was the central focus in learning.
In this study, we examine the use of the BeeBot in the language classroom and explore the students’ attitudes towards it as well as the factors that contribute to those attitudes. Greek-Cypriot students between the ages of 11 and 12 took part in the study which was conducted at two EFL classrooms. The study was implemented in three parts; the Pre-Activities, the Main task and the Feedback. Data were collected through classroom observations, interviews and questionnaires aiming at eliciting rich data on students attitudes towards the Bee-Bot implementation. Both interviews and questionnaires focused on students’ views and attitudes towards the Bee-Bot, whilst observations focused on students’ behaviour before and during the Bee-Bot activity.
Findings demonstrated that students held a positive attitude towards the Bee-Bot; students felt excited during the whole process, whilst nervousness and anxiety were also reported. Regarding the factors that contributed to those attitudes, students noted group-work, book-free lesson, playfulness, goal-oriented task, appealing materials, mysterious and challenging topic. The study concludes by presenting explicit implications for instructional designers, researchers and practitioners. As such, the findings of the study could provide practical guidance to EFL instructors, instructional designers with regard to the robot-based activities that seem to be of great benefit to language learners.
Keywords: Education, Robotics, Language Learning, EFL, BeeBot, Learning Innovations, Technology.